The King's School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by The King's School's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from The King's School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

Highlighting best practice
Rob Gammon, head teacher
Students completing the
Ten Tors 35-mile challenge
The King’s School has proudly been educating young
people in the Ottery St Mary area for nearly 500 years,
making it one of the oldest schools in the country. The
secondary school can trace its history back to a 14th-century
choir school that was replaced in 1545 by Henry VIII and
renamed “The King’s School”. It is a school that has a very
strong sense of community and an “achievement for all” ethos,
which permeates every element of school life. Head teacher
Rob Gammon outlines here how this is reflected in their “mixed
ability” approach to teaching and the inclusive nature of
I had the privilege of joining the school in 2006 as a deputy head teacher
responsible for the work of the school as a specialist sports college. The specialism
allowed the school to draw on its strength in PE and school sport, recognising the
potential for this area of school life to drive school improvement.
We were keen to build on existing partnerships with local primary and secondary
schools, as well as use opportunities for sports leadership, to develop an
environment in which our students could grow to be confident and articulate
young people who were well equipped to make a positive societal contribution.
Sports leadership was a huge success and has resulted in other areas of the school
delivering formal leadership opportunities for students. We now have leadership
programmes far beyond sport that span the curriculum and pastoral system,
enriching the students’ experiences.
»Head teacher: Rob Gammon
»Based in Ottery St Mary,
»Founded in 1545
»Type of school: Secondary
academy for students aged
11-18, and a former specialist
sports college
»No. of students: 1,110, with
184 in the sixthform
»No. of staff: 155 part and full-
time, including 80 teachers,
50 support staff and 25
teaching assistants
»Ofsted: “Outstanding”
The King’s School
An inclusive agenda
The school has a strong track record
of academic success and has been
one of the highest-performing 11-
18 comprehensive schools in the
southwest for many years. We are
firmly committed to an inclusive
agenda and have a well-established
reputation for supporting student
needs. Our special educational needs
coordinator (SENCO) was named as
the Teaching Awards’ “Special Needs
Teacher of the Year” in 2005 and the
Skills for Learning team were winners
of the Pearson “Team of the Year”
award for the southwest in 2014 as
well as being national finalists. Our
approach to meeting the needs of all
learners goes well beyond the SENCO
and her team of teaching assistants.
It is based on a firm belief in the
benefits of quality-first teaching with
all subjects in all year groups taught
in mixed ability classes – except for
mathematics. Our ability to meet the
requirements of all students, particularly
those with special educational needs,
continues to be stretched in the
education system’s current financial
climate and we are now finding it
increasingly difficult to fund the support
that is necessary to ensure that every
student has the best possible education.
We have always taken the view that
the success of our school is built on the
positive relationships that exist between
students, parents and staff. We are very
unusual in providing all year 6 students
with the opportunity to spend a week
at the school during July. Induction
week is a fantastic way of ensuring
that we get to know students well and
that they come to us in September
confident and ready to learn. The usual
fears of a year 7 student – getting lost,
not knowing anyone – are replaced
by a wonderful confidence that allows
students to flourish. During induction
week, the remainder of the school is on
project week. This is an opportunity for
students to learn outside the classroom
and build relationships with each other
and staff. Events vary from an activities
week on the Ardèche river, France, to
jewellery-making, utilising the expertise
of our staff to offer affordable and
rewarding projects.
Our house system is at the heart of
school life and provides students
with an opportunity to feel part of an
intimate community within the school.
We have a vertical pastoral system
with tutor groups mixed across year
groups, allowing for opportunities such
as coaching and mentoring from older
students. The tutors for these groups
come from support staff as well as the
general teaching staff. The house system
allows for healthy competition across
a range of activities in the day-to-day
living experience of the school. Some of
the most special moments of the year
happen due to the inter-house activities,
including the amazing “house dance”
competition, which is organised and
choreographed entirely by students.
A-level students enjoy
practical chemistry
The school has a
strong track
record of
success and has
been one of the
schools in the
southwest for
many years
The extended curriculum
includes “life skills”
Highlighting best practice
Health and wellbeing
We are acutely aware of our
responsibility as a high-achieving
school to care for the mental health
and wellbeing of our staff and
students. Personal, social, health and
economic education (PSHEE) has time
allocated to it in the curriculum across
all year groups and the curriculum
focuses on citizenship skills and
character education along with
personal, health and economic aspects
of life. We have a strong reputation
in this area and staff and students
alike have worked with professionals
from organisations such as Exeter and
Glasgow Universities and Virgin Care
as well as delivering training for staff in
southwest schools to teach lessons in
mental health. We have learnt much by
doing this, not least the importance of
listening to students and valuing their
input in this area. We have students
who are active members of the Teen
Health group and are mental health
ambassadors. The newly established
Respect group, recently recognised
for its work and being a recipient
of the Student Leadership Award at
the School Star Awards 2018, is also
allowing us to support students in
understanding a broad range of issues
surrounding diversity in all its forms.
Looking to the future
So much of what we do as a school
goes beyond the formal taught
curriculum and makes The King’s
School a very special place to study.
As a parent of three children who
attend the school I can confidently say
that the school does all it can to meet
the needs of every child in our care.
The biggest barrier to us maintaining
academic standards and a well-
rounded education for young people
is school funding. We have already
had to make significant changes
to the curriculum over recent years
because of a lack of funding in one of
the least well-funded counties in the
country. We have seen the curriculum
narrowed, teaching time reduced, the
pastoral support provided to students
squeezed and the workload of staff
within the school increase as a result.
Despite the rhetoric around a fairer
funding arrangement for schools
based on a new national funding
formula, there remains significant
national inequity and insufficient
funding for schools like ours to be
able to maintain the high-quality
experience and support for students
that has enabled us to be so successful
thus far.
So much of
what we do as
a school goes
beyond the
formal taught
and makes
The King’s
School a very
special place
to study
Students excel within and
beyond the classroom
Leadership skills develop through
activities such as house dance

This article was sponsored by The King's School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister